My Partner, Mi Compañera

This woman chose, of her own free will, to live with me almost two years ago. She has changed my life altogether, in sickness and in health, and we’ve developed a unique kind of mutual love and respect. Tinka and I have known each other a long time, each coming to Oaxaca about fifteen years ago as determined expats.

Lately we both got tired of living solo lives. I had a little house in Reforma; eight years ago she built herself a lovely place in Puerto Escondido. But things have changed there and she wanted to spend more time in Oaxaca City. So she proposed we join forces and she would split her time. I would visit her at the beach periodically. Friends going back to the states bequeathed to us their Oaxaca apartment which we remodeled, thanks to her contributions and some stuff from me.

We both grew up as privileged kids but in different ways. Tinka’s father was an IBM exec whose job was to set up offices in the Far East. She spent her youth in Bombay and the Philippines, later in suburban New York, learning about the world if not much about America. I grew up in a well off Chicago shoe business family, later to live and work in many places including New York, DC, Virginia and New England. See bio here.

We’ve both been married twice—each learning what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Tinka loves to travel; I’m getting too old and crotchety for that. Our tastes in food usually coincide, sometimes not, and we adjust. We may like different kinds of people and are mostly tolerant of the other’s taste. My long-term interest in music? Well, there we live on different planets, but so be it.

As some of you know, I spent many years in politics. Now Trump has brought us together, and we outdo each other in vitriolic comments, though she gets further into the weeds about the latest outrage than I do.

Most of our life together just works because we try to attend to each other’s needs. To illustrate: I’ve been sick for about two months with a miserable UTI infection, and you know how much fun it is to be around sick people. Tinka asks what she can do for me, shops for me, does most of the cooking, drives me to the doc, and tries in many ways to make things better. And she’s not cloying about it. I’ve never had treatment like that.

Our home has a roof terrace that she has totally transformed with plants into a horticultural welcoming spot. It makes the place beautiful and unique. And it keeps her busy because she is the kind of person who always must keep engaged with something.

So I’m thrilled that she keeps engaged with me, and I with her. Sometimes in old age things really do get better.

15 Replies to “My Partner, Mi Compañera”

  1. Loved reading this John. So much about aging is so hard and horrible, or dreadfully sad. Your piece today is a good reminder that it ain’t necessarily so. So happy for Tinka and you!

  2. This is a wonderful, beautiful post. Inspiring. Thank you, John and Tinka, for being in our lives.

  3. Love and miss you both. Our time spent in the cool crib y’all transformed is special, the roof totally a Garden of Eden. Would love to have you visit us in Athens (Georgia, that is). Karena, Raad and Baci

  4. Dear John, That is a lovely tribute to my sister which says it all. In Mexico Tinka has become quite the caregiver to friends and family who have visited her over the years, and a disproportionate number of them have had to go to hospital, where Tinka has had to go too and translate. This from someone who cringed at any sight of blood and could barely tolerate injections! Now she is taking care of you. I heard you want to meet me, and now, especially I want to meet you. And I love jazz music! Ev

  5. Father,

    Tinka is by far the most gracious, generous, tolerant, and astute friend of yours that I’ve met. I appreciate all that she is doing for you, herself by traveling, and others.

    I am thankful to her, also, for how she has treated me: for her gracious hospitality; her engaging no-holds-barred conversations and ribald wit; and, tbh, to hear that she is still there with you!

    And I hope you are cooking dinner for her when able.

    Possibly my fondest memory was at her place on the beach: She taught me how to slice the perfect Mango.

    Thank you Tinka!

    El Rojo

  6. I very much enjoyed reading your blog about Tinka, who is my cousin. I have not seen her in so many years. It makes me happy to hear that she is well and happy and has such a caring companion! Life is good.

  7. An incrediblly beautiful piece, John. When you’re feeling up to it, we would love to get together with you and Tinka. Soon, I hope.

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